Star Buds IL opened its first Illinois location (above) in January in the 7800 block of South Cicero Avenue in Burbank. | Bob Uphues/Editor

Last December, when Dr. Milad Nourahmadi terminated his sales contract with a cannabis dispensary company for the property at 2704 Harlem Ave. in Riverside, he figured he’d get no other offers from cannabis firms.

In February, however, Nourahmadi’s real estate broker was approached by Star Buds IL, a company that recently opened its first Illinois location in Burbank, to lease the Harlem Avenue property to operate a recreational use cannabis dispensary there.

“I had put the whole thing to rest,” Nourahmadi told the Landmark.

While Nourahmadi, who also owns the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave. where his Shining Smiles dentistry practice is located, said that lease negotiations were still in the preliminary stages, one of Star Buds IL’s partners told the Landmark he’s optimistic the deal will happen.

“It’s all going really well. It should hopefully work out,” said Mousa Joudeh, one of Star Buds IL’s partners, reached by the Landmark at the Burbank dispensary, which opened its doors on Jan. 7. “We’re 90 percent there.”

Joudeh confirmed that Star Buds IL had already met with Riverside officials to introduce them to the company and talk about potential building plans at 2704 Harlem Ave., which started its life as various fast food restaurants and later housed a Sara Lee Bakery outlet store and a title loan business. For the past three years, its has served as a COVID-19 testing site.

The issue that sank the last deal with Mint IL LLC was that the building was too small to house a cannabis dispensary. However, Joudeh indicated that Riverside officials appear open to Star Buds expanding the building’s footprint.

Joudeh said Star Buds would like to do in Riverside something similar to what they did in Burbank, where they bought a shuttered restaurant and completely renovated it.

“We have no issue doing that,” Joudeh said. “We want to do the same there in Riverside.”

According to Joudeh, Star Buds IL is affiliated with a company of the same name which started in Colorado in 2013 and now has 31 dispensaries in five states and one in Jamaica.

Star Buds is one of 10 brands owned by the Denver, Colorado-based cannabis company Schwazze, which acquired Star Buds’ Colorado dispensaries in 2020 and 2021.

Last October, the Illinois Department of Agriculture awarded a cannabis craft grow license to Star Buds IL. That operation is located in Rockford and will grow the cannabis for Star Buds’ Kaviar label products, according to Joudeh.

Should Nourahmadi be able to secure a deal with Star Buds, it would also trigger the sale of the commercial property at 2710 Harlem Ave., which is owned by the village of Riverside, to Nourahmadi, who wants to convert 2710 Harlem Ave. into a parking lot to be shared by the cannabis dispensary and the strip mall.

The village has had a sale contract with Nourahmadi pending since November 2021, but it was dependent on Nourahmadi selling 2704 Harlem Ave. to Mint IL LLC, which had been negotiating to purchase it.

The village extended the sale agreement three times, with the latest set to expire March 31. 

The sale to Mint IL LLC fell through, but with a new cannabis dispensary company in lease negotiations with Nourahmadi, village trustees on March 16 voted 6-0 to extend Riverside’s sales agreement on 2710 Harlem Ave. until Oct. 1.

According to the amended terms of the sale agreement, Riverside would sell 2710 Harlem Ave. to Nourahmadi once a dispensary is open for one month.